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Republican Party
Abbreviation GOP (Grand Old Party)
Chairperson Ronna McDaniel (MI)
U.S. President Donald Trump (NY)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (IN)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY)
Founded March 20, 1854; 166 years ago (1854-03-20)
Preceded by Whig Party
Free Soil Party
Headquarters 310 First Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Student wing College Republicans
Youth wing Young Republicans
Teen Age Republicans
Women's wing National Federation of Republican Women
Overseas wing Republicans Overseas
Membership (2018) Decrease32,854,496

 • Conservatism
 • Social conservatism
 • Economic liberalism

 • Centrism
 • Fiscal conservatism
 • Fusionism
 • Libertarianism
 • Neoconservatism
 • Paleoconservatism
 • Right-wing populism
 • Economic nationalism
Political position Centre-right to right-wing
European affiliation Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (regional partner)
International affiliation International Democrat Union
Regional affiliation Asia Pacific Democrat Union
Colors      Red
Seats in the Senate
53 / 100
Seats in the House
197 / 435
State Governorships
27 / 50
State Upper Chamber Seats
1,080 / 1,972
State Lower Chamber Seats
2,773 / 5,411
Total State Legislature Seats
3,853 / 7,366
Territorial Governorships
1 / 6
Territorial Upper Chamber Seats
12 / 97
Territorial Lower Chamber Seats
14 / 91

The United States Republican Party is one of the two biggest political parties in the United States of America. The other big party is the Democratic Party. The United States has many other small parties known as third parties.

The Republicans are often called "the right" or "conservatives". The Republican Party itself is also known as the GOP, which stands for "Grand Old Party." The symbol of the Republican party is the elephant. This symbol was first used in 1874 in a political cartoon (pictured), by Thomas Nast.

The Republican National Committee, or "RNC", is the main organization for the Republican Party in all 50 states. Ronna Romney McDaniel is the current RNC Chairperson. The Republican Party is not the same political party as the Democratic-Republican Party. The Republican Party is based in Washington, D.C. A state where most voters vote for Republican politicians is sometimes called a "red state".


1874 cartoon in Harpers Weekly, first use of the elephant as symbol for the Republican party.

The Republican Party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854, with the help of Francis Preston Blair. The Republican Party was formed by people who did not like the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which would let each territory allow slavery. The Republican Party was founded by past members of the Free Soil Party and the Whig Party who wanted to stop the expansion of slavery. The founders of the Republican Party wanted to stop the expansion of slavery because they believed it was against the ideals of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Some founders of the Republican Party wanted to abolish slavery everywhere in the United States. The Republican Party's first candidate for President of the United States was John C. Frémont in 1856.

Photograph of President Reagan at a Reagan-Bush Rally in New York - NARA - 198556
Ronald Reagan is thought to be a "conservative icon" and hero.

As the Whig Party collapsed, the Republicans became one of two major political parties in the United States (the Democratic Party was the other major political party). In 1860 Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, was elected. For the rest of the second half of the 19th century, the country had mostly Republican presidents. From 1860 until 1912 the Republicans lost the presidential election just twice (non-consecutively to Democrat Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892).

Republicans believed in protectionism (the belief that raising taxes on trades with other countries would protect the economy) during the second half of the 19th century and during the early half of the 20th century.

After World War I, the 1920's had three Republican presidents: Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. It was called the Republican Decade for that reason. Harding and Coolidge made a plan for the economy which lowered taxes, made the government spend less money, and got rid of rules and laws that affected the economy.

Near the end of the 1920s, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. During the Great Depression, the Republican Party became less popular. No Republicans were president between 1933 and 1953, when Dwight Eisenhower began his first of two consecutive terms as president. (He was re-elected in 1956.) Richard Nixon lost the election in 1960, but was elected president on the Republican ticket in 1968 and again in 1972.

Ronald Reagan, an actor and conservative political activist, was elected as president in 1980. Ronald Reagan became the first Republican president who was a former member of the Democratic Party. Ronald Reagan served two terms and his successor George H.W. Bush served one term. Reagan wanted fewer laws to affect the economy, and wanted the military to be stronger.

Bill Clinton (a Democrat) was elected president in 1992, and re-elected in 1996. However, a new Congress was elected in 1994, and Republicans gained control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. They voted against many of Clinton's ideas and proposed ideas of their own such as a line item veto and a balanced budget amendment.

After elections held in 2006, Republicans lost control of Congress. Democrat Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. Republican John Boehner was elected the Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. In 2014, Republicans gained control of the senate and the house. Boehner resigned in early October 2015 and was eventually succeeded by Paul Ryan of Wisconsin on October 29, 2015. On November 9, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College. Trump was the first Republican to take office as president since January 20, 2001, when George W. Bush was inaugurated. The Republicans lost the House and won the Senate in 2018. Paul Ryan retired in 2019 and was succeeded by Nancy Pelosi, who is a member of the Democratic Party.

Current Republican beliefs

Currently, the Republican Party is identified by classical liberalism, conservatism, and right-wing policies.

Not all Republicans believe in the same things, but generally these are the things many Republicans support:

Most supporters for the Republican Party come from states in the Southern, Deep South, parts of Midwestern (particularly Kansas) and the rural Northeast areas of the USA, as well as from Montana.

U.S. Presidents

Abraham Lincoln head on shoulders photo portrait
President Abraham Lincoln

Republican presidents during the 1800s:

Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981
Ronald Reagan

Republican presidents during the 1900s:

Official Portrait of President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

Republican Presidents during the 2000s

Other famous Republicans

John McCain official portrait 2009
John McCain
  • Spiro T. Agnew (vice president under President Nixon)
  • Jeb Bush (former governor of Florida, son of former President George H. W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush)
  • Jan Brewer (Governor of Arizona)
  • Dick Cheney (vice president under President George W. Bush)
  • Chris Christie (Governor of New Jersey)
  • Thomas Dewey (presidential candidate in 1944 and 1948)
  • Bob Dole (presidential candidate in 1996, former Senator from Kansas)
  • Newt Gingrich (former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives)
  • Rudy Giuliani (former mayor of New York City, former presidential candidate)
  • Barry Goldwater (presidential candidate in 1964)
  • Chuck Hagel (a former senator from Nebraska, U.S. Secretary of Defense)
  • Dennis Hastert (former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives)
  • Sean Hannity (a well-known talk show host on Fox News)
  • Jack Kemp (vice-presidential candidate in 1996)
  • Henry Kissinger (former U.S. Secretary of State)
  • Nikki Haley (Governor of South Carolina)
  • Orrin Hatch (President Pro-tempore of the Senate)
  • Rush Limbaugh (a radio talk show host)
  • Richard Lugar (former senator from Indiana)
  • John McCain (presidential candidate in 2008, Senator from Arizona)
  • Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader)
  • Sarah Palin (vice presidential candidate in 2008, former Governor of Alaska)
  • Colin Powell (general during Persian Gulf War, Secretary of State)
  • Nelson Rockefeller (Governor of New York, Vice President)
  • Mitt Romney (Governor of Massachusetts, presidential candidate in 2012, Senator from Utah)
  • Paul Ryan (vice presidential candidate in 2012, U.S. Congressman)
  • Condoleezza Rice (former U.S. Secretary of State)
  • Karl Rove (strategist to George W. Bush)
  • Donald Rumsfeld (Pentagon secretary during Iraq War)
  • Mark Sanford (Governor of South Carolina)
  • Kenneth Starr (U.S. prosecutor of Democrat Bill Clinton)
  • Michael Steele (Former chairman of the Republican National Committee)
  • Ted Stevens (Former Senator from Alaska)

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